On the Runway

London Fashion Week: Mulberry's Fantastic Foxes, Topshop's Puppy Love and Temperley's BYTs

London Fashion Week finds its swing, from the front row to the runway

Topshop Unique Fall/Winter 2011; Photo by Anthea Simms

Topshop Unique Fall/Winter 2011; Photo by Anthea Simms

Acne Fall/Winter 2011; Photo by Anthea Simms

Acne Fall/Winter 2011; Photo by Anthea Simms

Briskly began the day in the ballroom of Claridges hotel for Mulberry. While squished between Scott Schuman, Garance Doré and Tommy Ton, I noted the many starlets (Kirsten, Clemence, Rosamund, Gemma, Rebecca) in attendance. Makes sense – Mulberry is coming off a stellar year and is one of the most coveted show tickets in London. With their cheeky theme firmly in check – this season it was Fantastic Mr. Fox – designer Emma Hill sent out a woodlawn palette of moss and bois natural-beauty looks. Knifepleated semi-sheer dresses, wooden-wedge wallabees and country-lass Paddington coats offered a smart switch-up from last season’s overtly retro femininity. It was somehow softer and less contrived. Less did not extend to the Alexa handbag, a knockout success for the brand. Got yours yet? New varieties in crinkled moc-croc and quilting will tempt accessory addicts, but in this case, the clothes were certainly stealing most of the attention.

Next, Acne’s Jonny Johansson (who has good skin, for the record) showed a small edit of workwear-inspired. After all, the Acne customer doesn’t crowd her closet with trendy filler. But, if she does decide to invest, may we suggest the goldenrod boiler suits, complete with slightly slouchy leather trousers? Utilitarian denim opening one-pieces felt a little to Celine, while liquid leather tees failed to jibe. 

Meanwhile, Jasper Conran did a formidable job of modernizing the iconic Belle du Jour look. Patch pocket mini-shifts, in either black or ivory recalled Catherine Deneuve’s style in the film, complete with pilgrim flats similar to the originals by Roger Vivier. At times, it was too literal a throwback and I wished Conran had added curveballs to the Courreges/YSL formula. Just then, a merlot ponyhair skirt marched down the runway, devoid of nostalgias, and I briefly changed my mind. 

How can you go from reviewing clothes all day that are often made by hand in small studios to Topshop’s fastest of fashions? Well, it helps when Katie Grand is styling. The LOVE Editor-in-Chief (who also works with Louis Vuitton) is near untouchable when it comes to quirkily covetable runway themes. Enter 101 Dalmatians. Yes, that’s right, Dalmatian print is the new snakeskin, which was only very recently the new leopard. (Don’t worry, FLARE will cover the complexities of this issue soon.) Today’s Topshop Unique collection combined this Disney-lover vibe with a dash of pre-war era boardwalk glamour à la Rita Hayworth. The show, held at the mega-brand’s new airy warehouse space, featured multiple forms of spotted little dresses, matching booties and the requisite Cruella (faux) fur toppers. Next came full, full cropped trousers, siren mid-calf dresses and sailor-suits, paired with mix-and-match chunky Mary Janes, all navy and butter yellow. How much is that puppy in the Topshop window?

Celebrating her tenth anniversary, Alice Temperley invited London’s glitterati to her all-that-glitters show. Held at the impressive British Museum, the collection was full of Temperley’s Evelyn Waugh-era signatures. She whipped up Bright Young Things silk-chiffon frocks in antique gray, black and loose-powder blush with not a sequin to spare. There were moments when the glamour reached a level of over-saturation (cue the ruffles and mermaid silhouettes, but that won’t stop lash-batting beguilers who love themselves a Temperley confection from indulging. Maybe even Ms. (soon to be Mrs.) Middleton?